Chhattisgarh Forum orders SBI to pay compensation for deficiency in service

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The Chhattisgarh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has upheld the decision of a district commission, ruling that the State Bank of India (SBI) committed gross negligence and deficiency in service. The commission found that the bank’s negligence enabled an illegal withdrawal of Rs 1,33,890 through 16 online transactions from the account of consumer Bhagwat Prasad Chandra. The case invoked the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and resulted in a partial victory for the complainant.

Chandra, who held a savings bank account with the SBI at the Dhabra branch in the Janjgir-Champa district, discovered that an unauthorized withdrawal of Rs 1,33,890 had taken place between April and August 2020 through the Aadhar-enabled Payment System (AePS). Chandra alleged that his Aadhar number and mobile number were not linked to the bank account, making the withdrawal unauthorized. He had been withdrawing funds by visiting the bank branch and using his thumb impression. However, when he attempted to withdraw Rs one lakh on November 11, 2021, he was informed that the balance was unavailable.

The bank denied the allegations, claiming that the withdrawal was conducted online through a Customer Service Center using a mobile number registered in Chandra’s name. However, Chandra presented evidence that the linked mobile number actually belonged to his younger brother, casting doubt on the bank’s claim.

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After reviewing the evidence and arguments from both parties, the district commission concluded that the bank’s negligence in linking Chandra’s Aadhar and mobile numbers to his account facilitated the unauthorized withdrawal. As a result, the bank was ordered to reimburse the illegally withdrawn amount, compensate Chandra for mental agony, and cover litigation costs.

Despite the bank’s appeal, the state commission, led by President Justice Gautam Chouradiya and member Pramod Kumar Varma, upheld the decision, emphasizing the gross negligence on the part of the bank.

According to the state commission, the SBI is required to pay the amount of Rs 1,33,890 to Chandra within 45 days, along with an interest rate of six percent from the date of the district commission’s order. Additionally, the bank must pay Rs 20,000 for the mental agony suffered by the consumer and Rs 4000 as litigation fees.

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